seals

day 31-34 West coast part 2

I left Haast to check out the glaciers (fox and Franz). Fox ( below) was a little underwhelming. This was also receding, and you couldn't get anywhere near it without a tour. It seemed like a tourist trap, so i skipped it. The parking lot to get closer was also full, so I moved onto Fox glacier.

Fox Glacier - rainforest to glaciers

Fox Glacier - rainforest to glaciers

I opted for a top 10 holiday park to pitch my tent down in Franz Joseph Glacier. Holiday parks give you a shared kitchen, showers, water, nice bathroom, etc. It's nice to have these things when dirtbagging around :). That night I hiked around Lake Matheson at sunset. This was a photographer's playground! unfortunately some rude people staked out the whole platform for 15-20 minutes and wouldn't move.

when the sun dropped, the sky turned all sorts of amazing colors!

I waited till about 10pm to head over to the glowworm dell in Franz Joseph Glacier. These were super hard to capture with how dark it was and how reletively little light they produced.  It was also super eerie walking through this forest surrounded by glow worms. I kept getting chills down my back like a ghost or something was watching me. I B-lined it out of there after that happened!

"Arachnocampa luminosa, commonly known as New Zealand glowworm or simply glowworm, is a species of fungus gnat endemic to New Zealand. Both the larval stage and the imago are luminescent. The species is known to dwell in wet caves, grottoes and sheltered, humid places in forests. Its Māori name is titiwai, meaning "projected over water"."

 

The next day I did the Tatare tunnels hike. It was super hot and humid outside, as it is in a rainforest. (This is one of the only places in the world with a rainforest and glaciers in such close proximity.) Inside the tunnels, it was nice and cool. There was some history behind the tunnels: 

"Pioneer miners drove a 500 metre tunnel system through from the Tatare Gorge to pipe water to the Waiho terrace. While the gold recovered did not cover mining costs, Franz Josef township was established on the operation site. From 1911 the sluice pipes provided water supply for the old Graham Hotel.
The high-pressure water drove a Pelton wheel in the town and generated electricity for a sawmill during the day and lights for the town at night. In 1938 water from the Tatare Tunnels powered a small hydro station in the Tatare Gorge until it was destroyed by a slip in 1982. "
Franz Joseph

Franz Joseph

Next up I headed out to Hokitika. Hokitika was a small town, but large compared to what I've been seeing the past couple weeks! Cell service was available in towns (Vodafone SIM), but the moment you left town it went down to no service. I took advantage in towns to do all my internet usage, and texting. 

That night, I was treated to another fantastic sunset. Look at those colors!

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Right before I went to see the Hokitika Glow worms. These ones were behind a fence, and couldn't get close enough to get any shots that were worth sharing.

Right before I went to see the Hokitika Glow worms. These ones were behind a fence, and couldn't get close enough to get any shots that were worth sharing.

The next day I took a drive out to the Hokitika Gorge. Look at that water color! 

I headed out to Goldsborough Camping Area to grab a campsite. Hokitika is an old gold mining town. They also have a ton of Jade rock here. I picked up a couple of Jade necklaces-one for my sister, one for my mother. Maori Tradition has the gifter wear it for 24 hours. The different designs mean different things  If you would like to know the different meanings, visit https://www.mountainjade.co.nz/about-jade/greenstone-meanings-and-designs/ 

My campground was also a trailhead for some gold panning trails. Below was the tunnel terrace walk.

I hung out on a beach relaxing most of the day and came to this old railroad section for another great sunset.

The next day I headed up to methport, er...westport. It was a boring sleepy town, but I wanted to see the seal colony. I was disappointed that there was only about 10 seals there, and very far away, at that. Nothing like Kaikoura!

A quick stop at pancake rocks:

Seal Colony:

After checking in with my airbnb host, I asked her where to find penguins. She referred me to this spot, cape foulwind (below) I did not catch any penguins, but did get another great sunset!

That's all for now! The next posting will be the final post. I'll be going through the jaw dropping Arthur's Pass, The steampunk town of Oamaru, (where I finally spot a penguin!) and swimming with dolphins in Akaroa.

Day 12 - 14 - Nelson to Christchurch

There was a large earthquake last year was just north of Kaikoura, and it destroyed many roads on the east coast. Apparently the ground moved up 9 feet in under a minute! We were lucky enough to time it so that it reopened the day before we were planning to drive through it! many stretches were still under construction, so it was very slow moving. 

these  birds were on the way down to the Kaikoura peninsula. Once we got into Kaikoura, we checked into our cabin and took a drive out to the peninsula. One of the best meals I had (and cheapest too!) was at a roadside BBQ joint - Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk. Don't drive past it! It's amazing fresh seafood! I got salmon and Julian got a giant crayfish. Watch out for the seagulls, they WILL steal your food any opportunity they get...and yes, speaking from experience, they stole the last bite of my salmon :curses:

stomping around doing seagull things

We drove out the the tip of the peninsula - Point Kean Viewpoint, and were a bit underwhelmed at the wildlife. we saw a seal here and there, but nothing that everyone was raving about. so we kept walking along the shoreline, and OMG. There was a nesting seagull colony of 1000's. talk about scary. Then, we saw hundreds of fur seals! These guys are hilarious to watch, and the babies are the adorbs. We probably hung out with them for a couple hours!

like is this real life??

like is this real life??

this one waddled up to us and made a little howl and then shuffled away!

this one waddled up to us and made a little howl and then shuffled away!

listen with the sound on! it makes the best noise

After Kaikoura, we made our way down to Christchurch for Julian's final days before taking off our first stop (below was Waikuku Beach. A pretty empty beach, but saw a few dogs on the beach that we stopped and played with while the owner was surfing :) We ended up talking to the owner quite a bit when he came back.

We arrived in Christchurch, checked into our Airbnb and was greeted by the sweetest 9 month old chocalate lab, layla. She was the best. We headed downtown to check out some architecture. Christchurch was interesting in that they had 2 earthquakes in a 3 year period , almost 10 years ago. It sounds like it wiped out most of the city, and it's still rebuilding. It was a mix of brand new buildings, and old architecture. overall I was underwhelmed by the city, and didn't like it very much. 

We drove up to the top of the gondola before heading to Godley Pass

Next we took a hike around Godley Pass. There was still bunkers from WWII you could explore! I didnt expect to see that out here!

Finished off with a beautiful sunset up on Cashmere hill lookout. The next day we were going to swim with the dolphins in Akaroa, but they cancelled due to high winds. Whomp, Whomp.